[written 09 June 2009]

the dark
__taps wetly at my window
“we’re coming”
__sparks like leashed dogs
___growl and drag the shadowed storm
____across sky’s battlefield

taps quicken into drumbeat
__a bark! and city’s bitten

the wind flutes yankee doodle
__snap flag and crack the branches
___cannon-blast the leaves

and sometime, through the skirmish
__cold came

[Originally written c. 1993]

once every evening
Sunset murders me a little
reaches softly to my bed
i lie there
hands coffin-crossed over my chest
whispering myself to sleep
it stretches quietly
past my forehead, gliding through my eye-
sockets yanks me
backward by the brain
head over mattress edge
and holds me staring

blue dissolves to gold
ignites the clouds
a lake-blaze rolls where once i knew a sky

the walls of Home smoke
and clear
my boundaries undone
the flames open below
as i cling
to my ceiling-bed

the earth rocks on my spine
is small and curves the corners of my world
and i am smaller still

i cough and know i am Alone
but never solitary
an Atlas and an ant
i bear my world
my tiny, temporary world
and i am Nothing

purple swallows gold
i hang
my back against the ceiling
spider prey
the bulbous crimson Sun
drains I from me

inferno flickers
and in my tumbled gaze
the Sun stabs upward through the shadowed hills

then Nightfall buries

The Better Artist
When posting here this poem I wrote in 1991 while reading the Greek Anthology, I made only one update: I added the line break between the second and third lines. The tight interlocking symmetry of rhyme, alliteration, and theme did not leave much room for editing, and makes this one of my favorites. If only “hock” were a sculptural term.

[written 25 February 1991]

She carved a marble fox;
its bone was streaked with red.

She chose it from a pile of blocks
chipped off Apollo’s fiery head
as Periakles found him hid
inside the rusty Asian rocks.

I think that he was rid
of quite a lovely fox.

The Conjunction
[written early 1990s]
In honor of ‘Umar and Edward

__How helpless, worlds upon their orbits fly
whose unmarked frontiers ne’er immobile lie,
__without regard to pleading in our souls:
like creatures on their skins, are born and die.

[written 06 August 2007]

a flute
_peeps in Creation’s orchestra:
__the deep drum thunder of a billion grinding dust clouds
__the cymbal crash of countless bursting stars
__the sweep of whirling galaxies
____all sound God’s glory
______in raw, naked,
________untranslated praise.

and yet, the piccolo whistles its own name.
__Its dissonance, the ears of Angels rile:

“Spy: this whispered dewspeck of a world
__—clinging as to a flimsy undertone of moss
____in one slight, shadowed nook
______of the vast Garden of Creation—
notes the image of the unseen God
___and from a hush, squeaks out a troppo forte shrill!
___Given one humble sheet
_____they arrogate the whole ensemble.”

the trumpets turn.
___brass, flames, and sound
______a vulcan bellows roar.

you boast these penal codes and poems
______warbled in the mouths of shepherd-kings
______and culled by waves of tone-deaf priests
_____make you the maestros of Creation,
______privy to the deepest arts of Angels?

One stray and fragile barbicel
__from a spare edge of one down feather’s fray
____loosed from the blazing wing
______of but the least and lowest of our Host
would strum the orbits of your galaxy
__brush clean of life your cities
__and, con fuoco, leave this pompous dewspeck
_____modest, gentle, still,
_______and mute.”

Down To The Stem
[written in 05 July 2007]

in predatory privacy i weep
right round the circuit of this desert heath

__—a brier’d and thorny chaparral within—
__of quarantine: a barren, spiny wreath
___prick and poison, rash the unthick skin

awaken cellared dragons from the deep
__the shadow-mounted cavalry of Lent
__Los Caballeros del Cerebelo
to turn a lizard eye to sentiment
__to fast, to feed, yet to suffice, to slow

the grey-scaled Templars to heart’s quarters beat
__—Aseige, the scrubland-city. Cleared, the knoll—
set their archaic hooves upon the dry, unsuppered street
__a salient into the crucial sole

The Fable
[Originally written summer 1990]

it circles back around and strikes my hand
which spins and hits the ground.
_______________________the orange sand
engulfs the writhing fingers as my voice
calls out to other soldiers:
_______________________“is the choice
we made unable to be changed?”

how is the fable rearranged?

I Am The Bare
[written 19 March 1992]

i am the bare event
__not the temptation
__the redemption
nor the sin

__on the clock
i am the angle of the hands
__not the hour
__nor this watcher wondering
what will happen then

i am the keyhole breeze
__exclusion’s artifice
__which works to keep me out
lets me in

__on this page
i am the ink
__not the writing
__not the writer
not the pen

In The Seventh Boat
[written 12 February 1992]

in the seventh boat i waited
__and tried to say (but failed)
“in which of these
__with my disease
can i find oars to row?”

i sprouted tear and dropped
__into the scratchy bottom of the boat
while thunder-fated
__masses sailed
i barely had the arm to throw
__my morning glove, now white with dew
and button up my frosted coat

[written 07 July 2007]

a clan beached on the shores of Kýpros
__—innocent of Iron or fired clay—
slew the little river horses there
__to make clear pastures for their sheep
____and wallows for their swine

twice longer than the Crucial sect has thrived
__they lived in round stone homes on Kýpros
then, as those who would become the Jews and Arabs
__Indians and Europeans, bound in dark ancestral wombs
____were just then crawling out of ethnic infancy
three thousand years before Nile knew a Pharaoh
__the shepherd folk of Kýpros were erased

not one forensic whisper to explain

a thousand plus five hundred years
__white breakers tapped in vain against unpeopled shores
before a second clan to Kýpros came
__to find a land of pigs and sheep
the little river horses
__and their slayers

No Longer
[20 January 2009]

although by enthused citizens untold,
ghosts are majority in every town
__beyond a generation old:
denied a voice in city hall, instead
suppressed in ghettoed ground.

but one who turns a blind eye to the dead
__also the world’s necrotic essence shuns.
the universe, a graveyard without stones,
an unfloored sea of death on which the living float.
each living mote
__athrive on scoured bone.
each planet: sediment of shattered suns.

the past leans over present:
a giant’s rotting corpse, aslouch in its decay and poised to roll
__on top of unsuspecting moles
__blind and burrowing in the mulch
of older giants, folded and forgotten.

but open eyes need no memorials;
__the ground itself, unstoned
is evidence of creatures born and gone.
the here and now a thin veneer of light
__on soul-stunning infinitudes of dark,
the current but a foam on the abyss.

all songs be silenced, families extinct,
all empires fall, and regiments dissolved,
names once upon the lips, consigned to stone,
__and most that ever were, already gone.

those who know most,
__know most “no longer.”

Old Man To His Wife
[Both versions written 07 January 1991]

I – The Unhappy Match

this pea between my teeth
is more than i’ll bequeath
to you for when i’m ‘neath
__the ground

for as this pea — i fear —
you irritate me, dear
your intellectual sphere’s
__not round

II – The Happy Match

although your hair’s no longer gold
your features may no longer be as fine
i taste the grape in you,
__my raisin
and yes i taste the grape in you,
__my wine

A Road
[written 18 March 1991]

I took a road that seemed to me to lead
_away. And, so it did: it led to old
and even less-traversed ways, north and north.
_Good Heavens, Frost, this road is too damned cold!

[written 5 January 1992]

passion failed
__within the bowl of rock
where bones of Icarus lay sprawled
__against the roots of ancient trees
__long-dead but stiff as steel
a cage for worms

reason chilled
__but dry and dark with earth
no frost to glaze the leathered skin
__the tattered sails of grey-bone masts
__once filled with stormy breath
a ship of rot

Tallow Tale
[written 08 April 1991]

a fellow fell came to our inner inn
a voice like hollow howl of window wind

“have you some gentle gin,” he whispered, “pray?”
he drank it slow and left, but did not pay

“i shall avenge it,” swore my pallid pal
but, from his voice, it was a shallow shall.

Three Ladies of the Valley
[a spiritual allegory originally written 1990]

the Lioness with iron claws
___ She guards Her children from the winter’s ice
and warms them ‘til the forest thaws
___ Her coat of bronze to them is Paradise
within the stony confines of Her lair
no space will She for other children spare

the golden Wolf awaits the night
___ Her cry, not lonely, still echoes alone
She waits for dark and then for light
___ not hunting ‘til the silver moon has shone
not too bright lest the moon favor Her prey
not dark enough to blind both She and they

the rusty Vixen, grotto-born
___ while rooting through the leaves uncovers more
than ever She found, snow-adorned
___ stalking dead grasses tarnishing the shore
the winter’s lake was not the lake She knew:
although remaining ice-free, nothing grew.

Three Painted Circles
[written 19 February 1991]

three painted circles on a granite face
_two green inside a greyish-pinkish one
_were centered on a dagger when the sun
fell in behind a crack that marked the place
_where centuries of ice and heat coerced
__the stone to be trisected with a snap
__like continents on some medieval map
_the small two moving backward from the first
until some hunter found the sun shard there
_suspended like a finger in the air
_and painted rings to show that this is where
the light is when the weather’s growing fair

Two Teachers
[written October 1991]

A teacher of dubious art
___ the students fools still
‘though their copious notes
__ seemed a mark
___ of their learning
“Ah!” gasped the Learned One,
___ “They hear it all but listen small!”

A teacher of dubious thought
___ the students lost still
though the copious stream
__ trickled truth
___ to their thirst
“Ah!” gasped the Wise One,
___ “They listen all but hear it small!”

Wilderness I
[written 04 December 2008]

I slumber waking
roots reach down to Hell
while passers-by pick, eat the harvest fruit
___ripened but a day
from limbs that saw the fall of Rome

a dark cavern sea, unseen

wilderness I
___an ocean-stunting continental mass
unmapped, untracked, unbuilt upon
___I grew myself;
________________shoe-softened scions
lay claim boldly, stake their gaudy flags
___then cling their timid colonies along the tempered coast.

Winter River
[written 18 March 2007]

a thin but opaque face of ice
_glitters sunlight in a smooth, unbroken texture
__still and quiet, stable to the shores
alike one moment to the next

but, underneath,
_the river, darkened by the face above
and sealed from the evaporating sky
_churns and rushes, grumbles in the dark,
__presses up against the face (the face which must not crack)
_and chews into its bed
___and destined for the falls

The Wound
[written 1 April 1991]

a spear has pierced my hand.
it came out clean
___without much blood,
and what blood spilled has stained
the war field’s orange sand.
the pain is not
___enough to scream:
the wood
___shaft seems

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